Local 853

853 comes out in solidarity

Local 853 members who work at UPS gathered at the San Jose Giant\’s Stadium to stand in solidarity with insurance salespeople who work for AAA Insurance and are seeking union representation. According to Local 853 Busines Rep Johnny Gallegos, \”the company bought out the stadium to union-bust.\”

Local 665 launched its organizing drive with the employees at AAA before the pandemic. The campaign went dormant for many months but restarted in earnest in March. About 460 AAA agents work at 77 locations in Northern California, extending from the Oregon border as far south as Merced. The Local held a rally at San Francisco City Hall in April, which, in addition to hundreds of union members and AAA employees, attracted almost every San Francisco Supervisor and many other elected officials. The mail-in balloting begins on May 14, with the count slated for June 10.

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Local 853 members salute

Best contract yet at Westrock

In March, the 25 members who work at Westrock, a paper and packaging company in Milpitas, unanimously ratified their first successor contract since the merger with Local 853 took place. The four-year agreement is reputed to be the best these shipping and receiving have ever approved.

“The negotiating team fought long and hard with the employer to stay in Teamsters Health and Welfare plan and the Western Conference of Teamsters Pension Plan,” said Business Rep Pablo Barrera, who explained that negotiations had started in December 2019, but then were suspended for several months after Covid-19 hit. “We reconvened via zoom in January 2021, under the leadership of Secretary-Treasurer Rome Aloise, and were able to negotiate a new successor agreement,” says Barrera.

“In the end, we got wage increases of $2.85/hour in year one, $0.85/hour in year two, and $0.90/hour in years three and four. They also got retroactive pay at a rate of 2.25% above their hourly rate since the contract had expired 14 months earlier. Most importantly, we succeeded in our quest to stay in both Teamsters Health and Welfare plan and WCTP pension plan.”

“Getting this contract is only possible because of the number and variety of contracts that Local 853 has,” adds Aloise. “And, of course, it’s due to Pablo’s great negotiating skills!”

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Teamster drivers bring community to vaccine clinic

Delivering vaccinations to low-income people has been one of the greatest challenges for public health leaders. Not only are these community members at greater risk of getting COVID, but they’re also less likely than the general population to have either online access to make appointments or the transportation to get to clinic sites.

Starting on April 10, and for at least the three following Saturdays, Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters became the site of a community vaccine clinic for residents of nearby East Palo Alto, Bellhaven, and North Fair Oaks. Teamsters who, as employees of Mosaic, would ordinarily drive Facebook workers from across the Bay Area to headquarters, participated in the clinics by driving buses to shuttle community residents to and from the clinic.

\"\"Joseluis Rodriguez joined Teamsters Local 853 in 2015 when he started driving a shuttle bus at Stanford University. He was pleased and proud to participate in the Saturday clinic as a driver. “That’s the least I could do. Facebook took care of us and I wanted to give something back.” During the pandemic, even though its offices were closed and the shuttle and bus services were stopped, Facebook continued to pay the drivers.

“If Mosaic needs me for anything, I try to be one of the first to volunteer. It feels good to do something for the community.” Joseluis says he’s anxious to get back to work. “I’m very grateful that Facebook and Mosaic decided to pay us for all this time. But for me, it’s about time to get back to work and doing something.”

\"\"Albert Goodenough, began his career as a Teamster truck driver in the late 1970s and rejoined the Teamsters as a tech bus driver about four years ago. “Even though I live in Stockton, I felt that I should volunteer. I’ve been getting a nice check every two weeks. I don’t mind helping out once in a while. They’ve been good to me.”

Jon Stern, who works for Mosaic as a Field Supervisor at Facebook, said that the company was recruiting 6-8 drivers each Saturday that the clinic is in session. “The original commitment was for three weeks, but now it may be extended through May.”

At this point, the drivers have been told that Facebook will be re-starting the routes in June, but that date is flexible, depending on the course of the virus.

“I’m really proud of the Teamsters for stepping up,” says Local 853 Business Representative Stacy Murphy, who represents these drivers. “That’s what Teamsters do. We give back to the communities we serve.”

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Coronavirus vaccination record card. Surgical mask divided into two parts and syringe. Concept of defeating Covid-19

Local urges members to get vaccinated

We have all been dealing with the effects of COVID-19 for over a year now. The pandemic has had a devastating effect on many of our members and their families, with a number of our members passing away due to the virus. Many of our workplaces have been affected adversely and many of our members have suffered layoffs and loss of work. Some of our members have worked in jobs that are essential to keeping the economy moving, food on the table, medical supplies available, and much more. This year has highlighted to the general public how valuable Teamsters are to the community and society at large. Local 853 and our members have met the challenge. We can see steady improvements as our counties begin to fully reopen; hopefully, things are slowly coming back to normal.

Many of our members and employers have called asking about what restrictions or protocols are in place to deal with vaccinations. In our opinion, vaccinations are vitally important for the safety of our members, their families, and their fellow workers. While there may be medical or religious reasons for not getting vaccinated, we strongly encourage our members to get vaccinated as soon as possible. The vaccinations have been proven to be safe and effective, and have dramatically reduced infections and the need for hospital admissions for those who have been exposed to the virus.

Simply put, vaccinations are good policy for you and your family.  They protect you and your fellow workers on the job.

We strongly encourage you to get your shot(s) as soon as possible. Check with your employer about making accommodations to enable you to get yours.

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Standing up for Safety

On April 19, Local 853 members who work at UPS joined union members across the state in Sacramento to call on elected leaders to support AB 701, introduced by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego). This bill develops a warehousing policy aimed at decreasing worker injury and making transparent the debilitating quotas set by giant corporations, such as Amazon and Walmart.


The group built an interactive demonstration at the steps of California\’s State Capitol building, where they challenged Assemblymembers to step into the shoes of an Amazon warehouse worker and try to meet their average quota for just three minutes. While many legislators were game to try, after much hustling and running around, not one of them successfully met the quota.

The bill is still wending its way through the legislative process.

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Counting votes over zoom

The pandemic has changed how many union processes are conducted, including elections and vote counting. On March 29, Business Rep Mike Henneberry and Chief Steward Vanessa Wadley counted the ballots that members who work at Zenith Administrators in Alameda submitted on the issue of restructuring and strengthening their pension plan. But this time, they did the vote count over Zoom.

The issue arose after the employer messed up the payments owed to the pension plan. “This gave the union an opportunity to re-look at the plan and restructure it,” said Henneberry as he finished the count. The vote will impact the pensions of 57 members who work at Zenith.

Since almost 98% of the work at Zenith is being done remotely, the vote was conducted by mail ballot. Henneberry opened the outer envelope and separated out the ballots, which had been concealed in an inner envelope with no identifying information. He then counted the ballots by reading out the vote for the vote tallier (Communications Director Debra Chaplan). He then showed each ballot to Vanessa, who was on zoom.

The final tally was overwhelmingly in support of the union’s recommendation of how to strengthen the pension plan. After informing the company of the vote, Henneberry will meet with the Trust Fund to set up the mechanics to make sure that the pension contributions—both retro and current—get made properly. He’ll also make sure that back pension credits from as early as April 2019 are correctly recorded.

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Rally for Teamster jobs postponed…for now

At a time when Netflix has raked in $25 billion in revenues, up $5 billion from the previous year, the company is changing bus contractors, which may result in up to 29 Local 853 drivers losing their jobs and a lowering of wages for the replacement drivers.

Local 853 is in talks with Netflix and the presumed new contractor. We will post updates about the talks and about any future plans to rally.

Watch this space!

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Polland/Morales Scholarship—Deadline July 1

Please see the link below for information about the Joint Council 7 Scholarship Program. Scholarships are available to the children and grandchildren of active Local 853 members who are in good standing and will be based on a combination of academic achievement, school and community service, and financial need. In addition to completing the application form, the student must also submit a two-page essay on the topic: \”The Importance of Labor Unions.\”

Applications must be received by Local 853 by July 1 of each year for the next academic year. Be sure to print out, complete, and sign the application form, and submit with essay and a recent photo of the applicant.

Application form:  Polland Morales Scholarship


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Local\’s Union Hall becomes vaccine clinic for a day

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Local 853’s Oakland union hall was turned into a vaccine clinic on Saturday, March 27. The Alameda County Central Labor Council, a co-tenant in our building, brought together their affiliated unions to do outreach to their members. In all, 430 union members were excited to get the Johnson & Johnson “one and done” vaccine.

“This event was about union solidarity at its best,” said Local 853 Secretary-Treasurer Rome Aloise. “Even though we could only serve a handful of Local 853 members, we were part of a much bigger event that helped union members in Alameda County and throughout the Bay Area.”

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President makes forceful statement in support of union representation; Teamsters respond with pride and hope

In a remarkable video statement supporting the right of workers to join unions, recorded on February 28, President Biden has completely upended not only his predecessor but almost every president over the last century. The statement was released as nearly 6,000 workers at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama are voting in a union representation election.


“I have long said that America wasn’t built by Wall Street; it was built by the middle class…and unions built the middle class. Unions put power in the hands of workers. They level the playing field,” Biden said in the opening to his two-minute statement. “They give you a stronger voice for your health, your safety, higher wages, protection from racial discrimination and sexual harassment. Unions lift up workers, both union and non-union and especially black and brown workers.”

The statement asserted that the National Labor Relations Act is about encouraging unions, not just tolerating them. “Every worker should have a free and fair choice to join a union. The law guarantees that choice. And it’s your right, not that of an employer, it’s your right. No employer can take that right away.”

In response, Local 853 Principal Officer Rome Aloise stated in a letter to Biden, “For the last 46 years I have been organizing and negotiating for workers and union members, and your video—the frankness, the honesty, the total commitment and sincerity of your words, actually brought tears to my eyes. I never thought I would see a President of the United States make such a bold and honest statement to workers about the value of union representation.”

He continued: “Hopefully, with the help of changes in the antiquated labor laws that now govern union organizing and negotiations, and with leadership like yours, we can begin to bring back the middle class, assist the underprivileged and forgotten in our society, and end the cycle of poverty that can only be solved by good-paying, decently-benefited jobs, with pensions that allow workers to retire in dignity.”

Closing out, Aloise said, “I want to thank you on behalf of my members and especially from an old organizer that has been given hope for the future!”


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